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UCC Express - The Refugee Crisis

Another week passes and the refugee crisis continues to rumble on. I don’t think a single member of our nation has not been touched by the current situation, with opinions varying from the downright sadistic, to those of the people willing to personally sacrifice their time and safety just to help other human beings. The sad reality of western media's ignorance, bias, and downright despicability, has never been so apparent, as the voices of those apparently emotionally unaffected by the sight of a drowned child, garner the overwhelming attention of those happy to sacrifice compassion and reason for fellow human beings, just in order to sell a few more newspapers off the back of controversy. And they say politics is a dirty business? 

The issue that I see with people's perception of the refugee crisis, is the correlation people place between Syrians fleeing war and persecution, and regular immigration. The two are completely different. Irrespective of anyone's opinion on immigration, and the positive or negative consequences of an open immigration policy, when societies and wider humanity are confronted with fellow human beings in such peril and distress, it is incumbent upon us put aside our differences and opinions, and simply help, if we are to call ourselves human at all. At the time of writing 220,000 people have been killed in Syria, since the start of the conflict alone. Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million has been nearly halved as over 11 million Syrians are officially now refugees, the vast majority of these now residing in the Lebanon and Jordan, and not looking for “a free ride” in Europe. 

More than 50% of the current refugees from Syria are children, so arguments about how meagerly our current government provide for our homeless and the less fortunate, while understandable, are simply inadequate to justify our small part in humanity's collective dereliction of duty to these children. How many more of them need to lay face down in the sand, casualties of war, casualties of a world so self absorbed that scantily clad women are accepted as more appropriate images for our “news”-hungry eyes, before we accept we need to do more? Our own government have committed to taking in 4000 refugees in total, less than the population of Carrigtwohill, for the worst global refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago. How quick we have been to forget our own past and the plights of our forefathers. 

We live in an ever-changing world. Societal values, technology, business, and even sport are in a state of constant liquidity in the modern day. Change and advancement are seen as progressions, they’re welcomed. Yet, it seems, that when it comes to serious issues that face humanity and the planet, such as the refugee crisis, change is something nobody wants. We are happy to embrace changing styles on mannequins in the high street, but don’t mention that peoples lives’, or the planet's future depend on our willingness to adapt, accept and be human. It’s easy to detract yourself from the harsh reality facing the men, women and 2 million children whose only difference from you is birthplace, when such anguish ridden faces only exist on screen and paper, easily forgotten with the click of a mouse. Why bother yourself with the life and death situation of another human being when there is a Kardashian divorce to worry about? 

The sad reality is that such selfish attitudes to the world we live in, will surely land us at the peril laden and inescapable shore of human decline. The rise of more socially conscious leaders like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK offer some glimmer of hope, that we, as a species, still have something to offer one another, other than monetary transactions, and comparative degrees of narcissism. But we need to start demanding more from ourselves as well as our politics. Just last week a Fine Gael TD spoke of his disdain and fear at the thought of less-fortunate Dubliners being re-homed and infiltrating rural communities. If that is the attitude of the government party to citizens of its own capital city, I fear for the amount of lifeless children's bodies it will take to wash ashore, before we can ensure a welcome embrace extends from this place we call home, this place any refugee should be welcomed to call home. We live a privileged and comfortable existence in Ireland, while 4 million refugees struggle to survive, a struggle our ancestors encountered aboard the death ships not so long ago. Now is our time to stand up and be counted. Now is the time we should all do what we can.

Comments

  1. I am fed up with the cries for " Help our homless" before we let these poor people,who are feeling from a war zone ,I to our country !
    There are organisations to help the homeless ,,,,many of them ,alcoholics and other drug addicts want to stay on the street because otherwise the would have to go to rehab ,,, they don't want that at this time l....They are creating their own danger and sadly cannot stop it ......but the refugees are ordinary healthy peop, fleeing front terror and death .....where is the Catholic Charity I hear so much about ,,,,,,,what would Jess say to you ?

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